Baby savings secret No.1

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 For many of us there's nothing better than coming home from the shops (or the mailbox) with armfuls of amazing stuff, picked up at unbelievable prices.

Until, that is, you check out the bank balance and find the kitty bare. The gloss quickly wears off those "bargains".

Now, put a baby in that picture. ALL baby stuff is cute. And when it comes to your own little bundle of joy, there is nothing you wouldn't do - or buy - to make sure life is all sweetness and light for the little one.

But babies don't really need that much stuff and they don't need to cost the earth. There is a basic checklist of stuff you will want to make life easier - cot, pram, car seat/capsule - and then there are dozens of so-called "essentials" consumer society tries to sell you.

Save yourself the dollars by not going overboard and put them away for the kids' educations, family holiday or an extra pair of shoes.

Or use some surefire tried and tested ways of getting a few little extras dirt cheap.

Want to save $2,500-$3,000? It's easy. Ditch disposable nappies. Yes, disposable nappies really do cost you that much per child.

Get onto Ebay, buy cloth and fitted nappies and covers for 10 per cent of their price new and you're away. Don't worry if they are second hand. As long as they are in good condition, you just soak them in Napisan and they are perfect.

Is constant washing just as bad for the environment and your wallet? No. You scrape your solid waste into the loo then soak one 12-litre bucketload of nappies a day, tip the water in the loo and do one extra load of washing a day. End of story. Not hard. Not expensive. Nowhere near as destructive to the environement as landfills full of faeces-filled nappies.

Do your research first: There are dozens of websites about cloth nappies - try all about nappies to start with for information and darlings down under for an idea of what 21st century nappies are all about. The modern fitted types such as Mother-ease, The Weewuns, Tot Bots, Starbunz, Bummis are not available in stores - they clearly only want to sell you the old-fashioned terry towelling nightmare that make disposables more attractive. Modern cloth nappies are fantastic, come in huge range of colours and designs - from cow print, to fish print to wild shades, are comfortable, breathable and are great for baby's bottom!

They seem expensive to buy new, but you can find them on eBay. Or many offer trial packs at discounted prices.



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